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Photographer's Note

This mother wears the traditional blue burka of Kabul. Everything is covered except for her hands and feet.

In the days of the Taliban it was compusory for women to wear this type of clothing in public. Even just showing her ankles could lead to a woman being whipped. Cosmetics and shoes with heels were also banned.

Fortunately now times are better and the burka is no longer required for women. Yet still the vast majority continue to wear it in public, especially in Kabul and the other major cities (less so in rural areas). Society and tradition appear to change more slowly than the law. It is said that some women prefer to wear the burka for cultural or security reasons but I also heard that in many cases it was under pressure from their husbands.

In Afghanistan, men usually wish to keep their women away from the prying eyes of strangers. Women themselves do not like attention and will usually turn away if they see a man looking in their direction.

It was unusual therefore to have the opportunity to take this photograph. It is saddening though that it is as a result of the woman's misfortune. With no other form of income she has resorted to begging in the streets. It must have been very difficult for her to ask a strange man for money. In normal circumstances an Afghan woman would never approach a man they did not know. In this case though she needed the dollar and surprisingly she allowed me to take her picture in return.

*** I have been away from this site for a little while but have noticed that this image has been viewed over 150,000 times! Anybody know why? ***

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Additional Photos by Jonathan Wilson (jbweasle) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1245 W: 78 N: 1802] (9373)
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